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It was a day that basketball fans had been waiting on for some time. Star forward LeBron James, who had been with the Cleveland Cavaliers since 2003, was a free agent, free to ink with any team in the league.
James was the most recognizable face and name in the city of Cleveland, maybe in the entire state of Ohio. He was beloved by fans, the most popular player in the history of the Cavs franchise.
Many felt that James would stay put in Cleveland, as the Cavs top brass had spelled out a package that they felt was good enough to entice him to stay.
It was not meant to be.
James orchestrated a television special in which he would announce where he would play in 2011 and beyond, with fans in cities like Cleveland, Los Angeles and Miami sitting on pins and needles waiting for the announcement to come.
Finally at 9:28 p.m, James broke the hearts of Cavalier fans everywhere with the following statement:
“In this fall… this is very tough… in this fall I’m going to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat,” James said.
“I feel like it’s going to give me the best opportunity to win and to win for multiple years, and not only just to win in the regular season or just to win five games in a row or three games in a row. I want to be able to win championships, and I feel like I can compete down there.”
July 8, 2010: LeBron makes The Decision & Cleveland fans react. pic.twitter.com/RbSxk9xniu
— This Day In Sports Clips (@TDISportsClips) July 8, 2021
Everyone knows how it all played out. Miami’s ‘threesome’ of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh led the Heat to the NBA Finals, losing to the Dallas Mavericks four games to two.
James and Miami did go on to win titles in 2012 and 2013. He then returned to Cleveland in 2014, playing there till 2018 and delivering a title in 2016, overcoming a 3-1 deficit against the Golden State Warriors.
The small forward now resides in Los Angeles, having already won a title with the Lakers in 2020. He and his team bowed out in the first round this year though, losing to Phoenix four games to two.
James was vocal about ‘The Decision’ and what it meant to the NBA at the time. He says that now he’d do some things differently.
“If I had to go back on it, I probably would do it a little bit different”, James said.
“But I’m happy with my decision.”